Category Archives: Newsletter

Any post that is intended to edn up in the bi-monthly news letter

January 2014 and January 2015 Lump Sum Bonuses Update

by Maury Koffman, APA President

The APA is proud to have led collective staff union negotiations that resulted in lump sum bonus payments, each in excess of $1,000, for APA bargaining unit members in January 2014 and January 2015.

January 2014 Lump Sum Bonus

As indicated in previous communications, roughly $300 per full-time bargaining unit member was withheld by the University from members’ January 2014 union negotiated lump sum bonus. The issued payment was $1,042.43 but the full payment as initially mutually agreed was $1,371. Through the assistance of the Michigan Education Association as our state affiliate, the APA successfully litigated the case and the lower court ruled in favor of the APA.

However, the plaintiff filed an appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals on October 14, 2014. Unfortunately, the Court of Appeals moves at its own pace and the case hasn’t even been scheduled for a hearing on the merits of the appeal.

The APA continues to be actively engaged in the litigation of this case and remains optimistic that the higher court will affirm the lower court’s ruling in our favor, compelling full payment of the remaining amount to those APA members who satisfied the January 2014 eligibility requirements.

January 2015 Lump Sum Bonus

In a disappointing action by the University, MSU unilaterally withheld roughly $100 from each member’s January 2015 lump sum bonus payment under the theory that should the plaintiff prevail in his legal appeal regarding the January 2014 lump sum bonus payment, the same impact would apply for the January 2015 payment. It is noteworthy that no claim has been filed with the court regarding the January 2015 payment. The amount issued in our January 2015 paycheck was $961.81 but the full payment as mutually agreed was $1,059.

Following the unilateral withholding of $100 from each member in our January 2015 paycheck the APA filed a grievance and in mid November 2015 the APA presented the arbitration regarding the January 2015 payment. We are still unsure if the arbitrator is going to move forward in issuing a decision because the University raised several concerns including their viewpoint of how the lawsuit regarding the January 2014 payment could impact liability for the January 2015 payment. If the arbitrator does issue a ruling we will communicate with the entire APA membership accordingly.

Moving Forward

The January 2014 and January 2015 payments were the result of collective bargaining in reflection of the health care savings from 2009 – 2013 (roughly $2,400 per member). Since those total savings were paid out between the January 2014 and January 2015 bonus payments there is no lump sum bonus scheduled for January 2016.

It is our strong collective voice through the union that gives us the necessary resources to legally pursue full payment of the January 2014 and January 2015 lump sum bonus payments. The APA’s position affirms that the University should immediately cease its ongoing unilateral violation of our collective bargaining agreement by issuing payment of the remaining amounts withheld from our mutually agreed lump sum bonuses, plus accrued interest, from the January 2014 and 2015 payments.

Evaluation Update: Performance Excellence

by Melissa Sortman, MEA Uniserv Director

As it was mentioned in the most recent APA Newsletter, the University is prioritizing performance excellence as part of the MSU Bolder by Design initiative. As the professional staff union, the APA membership supports a renewed focus in staff development. APA members want to excel and continue to enhance their skill set.


It was priority in contract negotiations to improve the opportunity for professional development for our membership. The APA was able to expand the use of the annual $800 for professional development to include credit-bearing classes and ensure that members can use the up to five hours of educational release to include professional development classes. The professional development monies must be job-related and supervisor approved.


The University’s goal is to train all supervisors on how to set goals with employees. The supervisors will then meet with employees to set goals in the first half of 2016. The new evaluation program and forms will be used in the employee reviews after July 1, 2016. The new evaluation forms will include a new set of markers that include: exceeds expectations; meets expectations; developing; does not meet expectations. The new forms can be found on the MSU Human Resources website:


APA will be holding special training sessions in early 2016 to assist members in how to set performance goals, integrate the request for contractually bargained professional development monies and prepare for the performance review.


If you have any questions, please call (517) 999-4004 or email

Questions From The Trenches

For this installment of APA Questions From The Trenches, we asked APA President Maury Koffman to highlight the changes in the recently ratified APA 2015 – 2019 contract.


Was anything done with wages?

Yes and no. The APA October annual wage increase is determined through a separate wage and health care agreement previously negotiated and ratified by the APA membership in 2013. The change in this round of negotiation is ensuring the 1% October 2016 base wage increase is applied across-the-board with no merit portion applied in 2016.


Was a paid maternity/paternity leave discussed at the bargaining table.

Yes, repeatedly. The APA membership bargaining survey clearly expressed desire by APA members to enhance benefits that could be connected to maternity/paternity leave. While the University made it clear they have no desire to consider a paid maternity/paternity leave, the APA was able to empower members by lifting the maximum vacation time accrual to a total of 240 hours for all APA members regardless of number of years of service at MSU. Over two years of employment, that means an individual can accrue 50 paid days off (24 vacation and 26 sick).


Were any changes made to sick leave?

Yes. Sick leave accrual was increased to a maximum of 1,400 hours up from our previous max of 1,200.


What was done with dental coverage?

Modifications were made to ensure that the current Aetna DMO dental plan will continue without a member monthly premium share. While enhances were proposed to the Delta Dental plan, no changes were made to the Delta Dental plan.


How did the APA address educational assistance and professional development?

Modifications were made to ensure that release time may be granted for up to 5 hours per week even if the individual is not taking classes at MSU. Additionally, changes were made allowing use of the $800 annual professional development money to be used towards credit bearing classes provided the professional development is job related and approved by your supervisor.


What changes were made for all APA members regarding documents in the official HR personnel file?

The changes enhance APA employment rights by requiring counseling memorandums be held exclusively in departmental HR folders and not transferred to the central HR Personnel Folder.


Were any improvements in job protections for off-date employees secured through the recent contract changes?

Yes. Changes were made to enhanced off-date job protections for individual members who sign a contract directly with MSU that on day one of employment defines their final date of employment at MSU unless their contract is renewed. The language change adds job security rights for these members by ensuring that as long as the individual has worked for two (2) years or more at MSU when their contract is not renewed, that for twelve (12) months they will be guaranteed the right and access to interview for positions in which they meet the minimum qualifications and apply.


How long does the new contract last?

The newly ratified contact is in effect now to September 30, 2019.


Who should I call with my additional questions?

APA members should feel free to contact the APA office at 517.353.4898 or via email at with any questions or concerns.


APA is here for YOU

APA represents APA members in all job-related issues. Many times we assist in problem solving through work place issues that may not be contractually related. If you are having an issue with MSU and need assistance, please call the APA office at (517) 999-4004 or email

Topics that your union can provide assistance or resources:

  • Any contractual or employment law issue (a common issue is Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA))
  • Procedure for reclassification
  • Layoff information
  • Evaluations
  • Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)
  • Overtime/Compensatory Time issues
  • Call-in/Standby Pay issues
  • How to get a discretionary raise
  • Suggestions on how to handle a challenging work interaction
  • Health care coverage issues

APA provides monthly trainings through our More You Know series with topics that include:

More You Know Sessions

  • Annual Evaluation: Knowing the process and your rights under the APA contract
  • Compensation: How Do I Get A Raise
  • Educational Opportunities – Tuition Assistance, Course Fee Courtesy and Professional Development
  • Expanding Your Family – Adoption and Childbirth Leave 
  • Family Medical Leave Act
  • Financial Planning and Retirement (Hired within 5 years)
  • Finding The Right Job – the hiring and (re)classification process.
  • Labor Laws: Know Your Rights (also called Member Rights & Union Protections)
  • The MEA /NEA Advantage
  • MSU Policies and Procedures
  • Retiring From MSU (Within 5 Years) – Learn about the contractually guaranteed retirement provisions

Don’t let fear overcome your right to representation

Know Your Rights

If called in for a meeting with your supervisor that you may believe to be an investigation that could lead to discipline you have a right to representation. You must ask for representation.

You may stop the discussion and call your representative (517) 999-4004. Asking for representation does not indicate you have done anything improper.

This right is your Weingarten Right: the right to request assistance from union representatives during investigatory interviews.

You also have a contractual right to representation:

-57 At any hearing, conference or meeting that may result in disciplinary action to an employee in the bargaining unit, the employee may and is encouraged to request the presence of an Association representative. The employing department must, if requested by the employee, allow sufficient time for the employee to arrange to have Association representation.

Article 10, Clause 57 of the APA Contract


Your Fellow APs

Interview by Laura Wise, APA Executive Board

Your Fellow AP in this newletter is Phillip Lamoureux, a Research Assistant in the Department of Integrative Biology.

How long have you been at MSU and what brought you here?
29 years, I graduated from MSU and stayed.

Have you been a member of APA the whole time?
I have been in the APA the whole time, though I was once reclassified as a CT and fought to remain an APA and won.

Can you tell me a little bit about what you do?
I grow nerves and stretch them, doing neuroscience and biophysics in the Integrative Biology Department. My personal passion is The Student Biodome Project – Imagine a tropical garden of lush plants, splashing waterfalls, and curving paths with around the bend mystery, right next to Shaw Hall! It will be warm and aromatic all winter long under a sparkling Biodome, like a gem in the heart of campus. Designed for weddings, concerts, plays, so people could meet, relax, learn, connect with nature and grow healthier together.

See our website at and take the Biodome Tour!

Reception in the Garden Recap

Over forty members gathered for our first ever Reception in the Garden.  This reception offered members an opportunity to meet, mingle, and network with other members and executive board members while enjoying wonderful hors d’oeuvres and refreshments.

Members discussed APA topics of interest such as educational assistance, MSU retirement benefits, new member lunches, More You Know lunch opportunities, as well as other community based events.  If you would like more information on  continuing your involvement as an APA member, or would like to participate in the APA Area Representative training program, please let us know by reaching us at

APA Reaches a Successor Contract Through September 30, 2019

On Thursday, September 24, 2015, contract negotiations concluded when the APA reached a tentative agreement with the administration of Michigan State University for a successor APA contract valid through September 30, 2019. As with most collective bargaining, neither management nor labor obtained everything sought at the commencement of negotiations.

Responding to the information and data from APA membership surveys ( and input provided through member engagement events, emails, and phone calls, the APA Bargaining Team entered negotiations with proposals on nearly 30 different contractual items.

A brief recap is as follows:

The APA was successful in fighting off University proposals on topics such as:

  • Attacks on job security
  • Total elimination of current Longevity Pay program
  • Harmful changes to the evaluation process
  • Increasing merit pay to 100% of your annual base wage increase which could prevent members from receiving any base wage increase any year at the exclusive discretion of your immediate supervisor/department

The APA is proud to have negotiated:

  • Greater protections from discrimination in the workplace
  • Maternity/Paternity leave planning enhancement through increased vacation maximum accrual rates for new employees
  • Increase of maximum accrued sick leave bank to 1,400 hours
  • Maintained fully funded Aetna DMO dental coverage (no changes to Delta Dental plan)
  • Improved professional development to allow for use of annual $800 for off campus and college credit bearing courses
  • Enhanced job security for all members and additional rights for off-date employees who are subject to layoff
  • Maintained current 40% across the board and 60% merit pay process for annual base wage increases unless the total base wage increase is 1% or less in which case the annual base wage increase will be applied 100% across the board
  • Protected 403(b) retirement fund contributions for employees who began at MSU on or after July 1, 2010 who are no longer eligible for post retirement health care benefits

Additionally, your APA Bargaining Team pursued key issues members brought to attention:

  • Paid paternity/maternity leave and short term disability benefits
  • Improved dental coverage
  • Additional objective criteria to determine the merit portion of the annual APA base wage increase
  • Parking rate equity for members working at the MSU Secchia Center

After notice of the tentative agreement was provided to the APA membership, information sessions were held on campus in East Lansing, as well as at the CHM Grand Rapids. Members who attended delved into the issues and had productive dialogue.

Balloting for the 2015 – 2019 APA Tentative Agreement ratification concluded on October 13, 2015, at 4pm.

In total, 702 members cast a ballot.  639 (91%) cast a ballot in favor of ratification with 63 (9%) in opposition.  Therefore, the contract was officially ratified by the APA membership.

As soon as possible, the ratified contract will be printed and copies made available to APA members. Additionally, an electronic version will be posted on the APA website.

The APA greatly appreciates the comments that were provided leading into and during negotiations and membership questions and engagement around the tentative agreement ratification.

For further information or to ask questions, please contact the APA at or at 517.999.4004.

Documenting Professional Excellence: Evaluations

by Melissa Sortman, MEA Uniserv Director

The University is prioritizing professional excellence and part of the focus is on the evaluation process of employees. APA leadership has been meeting with MSU Human Resources regarding potential changes to the evaluation forms and the evaluation process. APA will be meeting with the University to discuss the impact of any changes on the membership.

The performance evaluation process should be valuable time used to get constructive feedback from your supervisor that reflects a review of the last year, but also lay out a plan for the following year. It may also be an opportunity for you to set goals. This may include the criteria for the merit portion of the bargained raise received each October.

APA provides trainings for members to assist in the preparation for the evaluation, discussion of how to request an off-cycle raise and ways to use professional development to support your career plans. Monthly notice is sent out to sign up for More You Know trainings.

Contractually, the performance evaluation review should be done annually, according to Article 12 Clause 101 of the MSU APA Master Agreement. If an employee is having performance issues, more frequent evaluations are allowed. The Performance Evaluation Form is a standard form and can be found on the Human Resources website:

The formal evaluation form is one of the few documents that may be placed in an employee’s official personnel folder. In addition, an employee may add additional comments regarding the evaluation to be placed in the personnel file. You have a right to know what is placed in your personnel file which is governed by the Bullard Plawecki Employee Right to Know Act (link)

Many members would like the supervisor feedback and recognition of work performance. You may request to schedule your evaluation. If you are not evaluated, there is a presumption of satisfactory work. The University is making it a priority to have annual evaluations.

If members receive an unsatisfactory evaluation and/or placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), you should notify the APA office at or call the office at 517.999.4004. If you contact your union, it will be kept confidential.

If placed on an Improvement Plan, you will typically have monthly meetings with your supervisor with a revaluation within ninety days from the date of being placed on the PIP. The union representative can assist you in many ways through the process. The APA representative can, at the member request, call a conference with the evaluator prior to the ninety day evaluation. This meeting can be useful to facilitate problem solving path versus a punitive one.

Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance, the MSU APA office is (517) 999-4004.


Employee Self Review Worksheet: